A capsule look at the best-of-three playoff series between the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians in Cleveland beginning Tuesday night:
NEW YORK YANKEES
Playoff Entry: second place, AL East.
Playoff Seed: No. 5.
Manager: Aaron Boone (third season).
Projected Rotation: RHP Gerrit Cole (7-3, 2.84 ERA, 94 Ks), RHP Masahiro Tanaka (3-3, 3.56, 44 Ks), LHP J.A. Happ (2-2, 3.47, 42 Ks).
Top Hitters: 1B Luke Voit (.277, major league-leading 22 HRs, 52 RBIs), 2B DJ LeMahieu (major league-leading .364, 10, 27, 41 runs, 10 doubles, 1.011 OPS).
Top Relievers: LHP Aroldis Chapman (1-1, 3.09 ERA, 3 saves), LHP Zack Britton (1-2, 1.89, 8 saves).
Series Summary: The Yankees are in the playoffs for the fourth straight year but still looking for their first pennant since winning the 2009 World Series. … Favored to win the AL East, the Yankees alternated hot and cold spurts: a 16-6 start following by a 5-15 slide, a 10-game winning streak and six losses in their last eight games. … Played much better in the Bronx, going 22-9 at home and 11-18 on the road. … Offense was reliant on home runs, with 156 of 315 runs scoring on long balls, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. … Giancarlo Stanton hit .200 with one homer, four RBIs and 16 strikeouts in 35 at-bats after returning Sept. 15 from more than a month on the injured list with a strained left hamstring. … Aaron Judge also slumped after returning Sept. 16 from a strained right calf, with no homers and two RBIs. … New York’s fielding percentage was its worst since 1973. … Backup catcher Kyle Higashioka will start behind the plate in the opener as Gary Sanchez sits. Cole had a 1.00 ERA while pitching to Higashioka (three earned runs in 27 innings) and a 3.91 ERA while pitching to Sanchez (20 earned runs in 46 innings). Cole and Higashioka have known each other since playing on a scout team together as teenagers in Southern California.
Playoff Entry: second place, AL Central.
Playoff Seed: No. 4.
Manager: Sandy Alomar Jr. (Interim for Terry Francona).
Projected Rotation: RHP Shane Bieber (8-1, 1.63 ERA, 122 Ks, led league in all three categories), RHP Carlos Carrasco (3-4, 2.91, 82 Ks), RHP Zach Plesac (4-2, 2.28, 57 Ks).
Top Hitters: 3B Jose Ramirez (.292, 17 HRs, 46 RBIs, 45 runs, 10 steals, .993 OPS), SS Francisco Lindor (.258, 8, 27), DH Franmil Reyes (.275, 9, 34).
Top Relievers: LHP Brad Hand (2-1, 2.05 ERA, 16/16 saves), RHP James Karinchak (1-2, 2.67, 53 Ks in 27 innings).
Series Summary: The Indians return to the playoffs looking to end baseball’s longest current World Series title drought, stretching back to 1948. . Cleveland’s postseason hopes were in serious doubt following an eight-game losing streak in September, but the Indians won seven of their last eight and nine of 11 after the skid. . Ramirez carried Cleveland’s inconsistent offense down the stretch. He batted .416 over his final 16 games with eight homers, 20 RBIs and vaulted into the MVP race. Ramirez’s final 11 hits were for extra bases (7 doubles, 4 homers). … Bieber became the first pitcher to win the pitching Triple Crown – wins, ERA and strikeouts – since Johan Santana in 2006. Bieber’s start in Game 1 will be his first postseason appearance. … It’s been an especially challenging few months for the Indians, who went 27-19 under Alomar. He filled in while Francona dealt with some health issues. Alomar is in charge for the postseason, with Francona serving as an adviser. … Cleveland’s staff had to be adaptable after bench coach Brad Mills, Francona’s longtime assistant, opted out for personal reasons, and hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo stepped away due to coronavirus concerns. … Alomar guided the club through other adversity, including when Plesac and Mike Clevinger were demoted for breaking COVID-19 protocols. Clevinger was traded to San Diego at the deadline. … It’s all about scoring for the Indians, who went 29-6 when they got at least three runs. … The Indians and Yankees have plenty of playoff history. Cleveland blew a 2-0 lead against New York in the 2017 Division Series. The teams also met in 2007, 1998 and 1997. … Ramirez (.100) and Lindor (.111) were awful in the 2017 ALDS against the Yankees.
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